Las Vegas is home to several Michelin-starred chefs known for reinventing traditional cuisine from around the world and presenting dishes in a new and innovative way across a bevy of amazing Las Vegas restaurants. Their work has made them international superstars, the celebrities of the strip. But one chef stands above the rest for his French cuisine that defined a generation of Larousse Gastronomique devotees, chef Joël Robuchon, the world’s most Michelin-starred chef.
Named “Chef of the Century” by the Gault Millagu guide, Robuchon has trained some of the most iconic chefs around the world including fellow Las Vegas legend Gordon Ramsay as well as Eric Ripert and Michael Caines. It may solidify his place among the celebrity chefs of Las Vegas, but Robuchon is so much more. So how did a chef, known for his delicate pastries and traditional French cuisine go from the Head Chef at the Hotel Concorde La Fayette to one of the most recognized names in Las Vegas? The through-lines are immaculate plating, dedicated vision, hard work, and some of the most delicious and delectable courses that the culinary world has ever experienced.
Born in Poitiers, France in 1945, Robuchon has a passion for food and cooking early on. At the age of fifteen, he became an apprentice chef at the Relais de Poitiers hotel, beginning his career as a pastry chef, something that would influence his cooking and style for many years to come.
After turning 21, Robuchon joined the Compagnon du Tour de France, allowing him to travel throughout the county and learn diverse cooking techniques from several professional chefs. Returning to the security of the Hotel Concorde La Fayette at the age of 19, he rose to head chef where over 90 cooks were managed under his command. By the time he turned 31, Robuchon won the Meilleur Ouvrier de France for his culinary craftsmanship.
In 1978, Robuchon started working as the Executive Chef and Food and Beverage manager of Hotel Nikko in Paris (the one in France, not the Paris in Vegas). It was at Hotel Nikko where Robuchon earned his first two Michelin stars.
Taking his experience with him, Robuchon opened his own restaurant, Jamin, in 1981. Robuchon earned a Michelin star every year for the restaurant’s first three years, a rare feat for any chef around the world. By 1984, Jamin was named the Best Restaurant in the World by the International Herald Tribune, launching Robuchon into celebrity stardom, appearing on French television shows and as a guest chef around the world.
Robuchon retired at the age of 50 in 1995, citing concerns of stress and heart attacks reported by many other chefs of his caliber. But despite his early retirement, he made a worldwide comeback by opening a series of restaurants in his name.
The first L’atelier de Joël Robuchon was opened in Paris in 2003, a collaboration with Pierre-Yves Rochon to highlight flavors from the many French restaurants he experienced during his travels with the Compagnon du Tour de France.
The concept for L’atelier de Joël Robuchon inspired Rhim to continue sharing his passion of French cuisine, causing him to establish Joël Robuchon restaurants on all continents. This included spots in Singapore, where he earned another three Michelin Stars, as well as in Dubai, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Japan, London, Spain, New York City, Monaco, Tokyo, Miami and Las Vegas.
His expansion into different continents with world-class restaurants turned Robuchon into the most Michelin-starred chef in the world, earning 32 stars throughout his different restaurants.
Showcasing his iconic French cuisine, Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas quickly took over the strip as one of the must-visit destinations along the strip and claimed his spot among Las Vegas’s best French restauranteers.
Located in the MGM Grand Las Vegas, the gourmet restaurant became known for its prix fixe menu where guests could try a variety of his experimental takes on classic dishes.
Established in 2005 and opened to the public in 2006, the restaurant quickly earned several awards including three Michelin stars in 2009, five stars from Forbes Travel Guide, and was listed on the Wine Spectator as well as Travel and Leisure as one of the finest restaurants in the world and one of Las Vegas’s most elite eateries. Gourmet Magazine also included Joel Robuchon in the Top Five restaurants in the United States.
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What to Order
Known for its nouvelle cuisine served Prix Fixe style with a tasting menu, L’atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas is known for providing the ultimate fine dining experience. With only 12 tables in the establishment, reservations are necessary to enjoy the unique cuisine.
There are several course options including a pre-theatre meal for just $49, a three-course meal for between the $75-$100 and a Discovery Prix Fixe, a 16-course meal that can range up to $500 per person.
Robuchon is known for turning simplicity into the star of the meal, with subtle flavor profiles expanding outward and offering a sensational experience. One of the iconic Las Vegas specialties is the Le Caviar which features layers of fennel cream and crab hidden beneath the roe to enhance all the flavors of the sea in a delicate way.
But one dish Robuchon is respected around the world for is his pommes puree, possibly the most famous mashed potatoes on the planet. Known for its excessive butter and ratte potatoes, it’s all in the technique. The potatoes are boiled whole, peeled and pressed through a food mill, resulting in a fluff that is then dried out over a low flame before the butter is added gradually. The finished puree is smooth, meltingly soft and barely holds its shape, like a whipped cream.
Additional main course menu items known for their flavor profiles and depth included the La Caille, or caramelized quail filled with foie gras served with potato puree, La Bavette, or skirt steak “plancha” seared with caramelized onions, crispy shallots and Dijon mustard, and the Le Cabillaud, or Confit Cod served with Bok choy and Fava beans.
Plates that defined a generation
The best way to enjoy L’atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas is by tasting as many menu items as possible without filling up to the point where you lose enjoyment. It may not be the typical cheap eats of Las Vegas, but it’s worth the price tag. The best way to have that experience is through appetizers and small entree options. These range from traditional French recipes to experimental dishes that have now become classics in the world of fine dining. When in Vegas, here are a few additional appetizers and entrees to experience for the full Robuchon effect.
La Foie Gras
Bouchon’s traditional torchon of duck foie gras is served with a selection of bread and is delicate, light and extremely rich. the pate style serving is the perfect way to begin a meal at Robuchon.
Bouchon turns simple recipes into culinary hits by getting the taste profile perfect and combining technique with fresh ingredients. Le Jambon pairs Serrano ham with roasted tomato bread, bringing the flavors together that pair perfectly with a glass from their over 100+ wine selection.
Seafood is a Robuchon specialty and his ability to prepare fish in a new and unique way inspired chef Gordon Ramsay to add his crispy skin salmon to the menu. Les Gambas is a selection of blue rock shrimp served “a la plancha” or grilled. The shrimp are paired with a salad of fresh spring greens, tomatoes and a side of fresh mozzarella.
For the vegetarian option, Robuchon pays respect to the fresh vegetables and treats them with the same care and dedication as a meat or fish entree. Les Choux consists of a Cauliflower salad served with a sweet and sour vinaigrette and peanut tuile. At just $28 dollars, it is one of the cheaper menu options for L’atelier de Joël Robuchon as well.
Robuchon defined a generation of chefs through his relentless perfectionism and passion for the right ingredients pairs with the right technique, profiled by Patricia Wells in her book Simply French, where she dubbed his style “Cuisine Actuelle.” So whether you’re in Las Vegas to gamble, to walk through the strip and see the sights, or to enjoy a dinner that might change your life, L’atelier de Joël Robuchon is the destination to experience the decorated chef in all of his glory. While he may be gone, a community of cooks and chefs keeps his vision alive, serving up his unique style of French cuisine that is now recognized around the world.
When did Joel Robuchon die?
Robuchon passed away on August 6, 2018 at the age of 73 after receiving a year of treatment for a pancreatic tumor.
How much does it cost to eat at Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas?
Offering the best French cuisine in town, guests can pay between $75-100 per person for a three-course meal or nearly $500 per person for the signature 16-course meal.
What should I order when I go to Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas?
With a tasting menu designed to provide each unique flavor that L’atelier de Joël Robuchon has to offer, guests can expect to try everything during their visit. But the most memorable selections include Les Crevettes, or shrimp carpaccio with yuzu vinaigrette with caviar and La Daurade Royale, or king snapper ceviche on top of a creamy cilantro avocado.